Shukria Mahmsoria came from Afghanistan about a year ago with her husband and children – Kabir, 13; Ramziea, 9; and Reza, 7. They are expecting another child in April. They chose to come to Utah because they felt it was “a good place with good people.” They remembered a woman who helped them when they arrived. A little detective work revealed it was Melissa Inouye McMullin, the niece of Ann Takasaki from Big Ocean. An article in this newsletter from last February explains how the Big Ocean cottages in Provo and Spanish Fork learned of urgent needs and worked with their communities, schools, and churches to assist Shukria’s family and other refugee families.
The family likely remembers Melissa and her family because they continued to go on outings with them, provided masks for them to make and sell, and arranged some catering events that showcased the delicious Afghani food that Shukria makes.
Melissa learned of the opportunity to help refugee families on social media through the efforts of Holly Sweeten, the Cottage Aid Coordinator for Big Ocean, who met some of these remarkable refugees from Afghanistan in her work with an NGO, Roots of Peace. Holly, in turn, learned about the needs of these friends from Sweeta Hashemi, another Afghan immigrant who has established herself and was serving as an interpreter for Roots of Peace.
With her son Kabir interpreting, Shukria said, “Everyone has been welcoming and kind. We have been helped in many ways, including helping to find my husband a job.” (This job is at Black Rifle Coffee Company making hats.)
Her husband was a seamster in Afghanistan and Shukria also had sewing experience. Through a blessed coincidence, Big Ocean Women needed masks sewn to use as gifts for donors who supported global sisters throughout the world. Big Ocean Women paid Shukria to sew these masks. It took her a few months, and she estimates she made about 300 masks. This led to another opportunity for her to work from home sewing clinical masks–which will be used in medical facilities–for a charitable organization.
These refugees courageously leave loved ones behind and come to make a new start to provide safety for their families and give their children the opportunity to get an education. They quickly express gratitude for help received in their journey. Shukria said, “We love it here and are happy we came. Everyone has been so kind.”
This story is an example of our tenet for March, “We work with our global sisters to create generative solutions. It did not begin and end with a discrete service project but forged a connection of continuing support. These solutions allow Shukria and her husband to work to provide for their family while the children attend school and learn English—opportunities that will bless the family and their communities for generations to come.